Fake news, political grifting, and the extraordinary ineptitude of Jacob Wohl – Washington Examiner

Fake news, political grifting, and the extraordinary ineptitude of Jacob Wohl – Washington Examiner

In the short time that President Trump has been in office, we’ve seen a surge in political grifting and fake news. Some are good at being devious, while others match their unscrupulousness with extraordinary ineptitude. In the latter category, consider Jacob Wohl.

Who is Jacob Wohl?

Wohl is a 21-year-old far-right conspiracy theorist and provocateur, who was mainly an internet troll. His financial firm was banned in perpetuity by the National Futures Association for defrauding investors. Since then, he has made national news when he went after special counsel Robert Mueller and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.

In the fall of 2018, Wohl and eccentric lobbyist Jack Burkman seemingly attempted to get Mueller accused of sexual misconduct. Wohl and Burkman allegedly offered women money to lie about Mueller sexually harassing them. Wohl even set up a company called Surefire Intelligence to pose as a private investigation firm for credibility. However, the website was poorly made: The phone number on the site sent callers to Wohl’s mother. The site included headshots of supposed employees. But they weren’t employees. One picture was a shot of Academy Award-winning actor Christoph Waltz.

The accusations fizzled as no one came forward accusing Mueller of sexual misconduct. And you would think that would be the end of it. But six months later, Wohl and Burkman did the same thing again, this time with Buttigieg.

In a Medium post, a man named Hunter Kelly said he had been raped by Buttigieg. Kelly later recanted saying he was tricked and intimidated by Wohl and Burkman. On Facebook, Kelly said his accusation was written and posted without his permission by Wohl. According to the Daily Beast, Wohl and Burkman had gone fishing for gay Republicans who would falsely accuse Buttigieg of sexual misconduct.

Why does it matter?

Wohl, and many grifters like him, capitalized on vulnerable people, of which there are many, who fall into the trap of believing in reporting that’s either clearly fake or later turned out to be false or misrepresented.

During the 2016 election, social media websites like Facebook and Twitter were the main vehicles to promulgate fake news. One of the worst examples was “Pizzagate,” the viral, yet debunked conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton’s friends were operating a child sex trafficking ring from inside the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C. In late February 2019, Wohl admitted in an interview with USA Today that he was creating fake accounts on Facebook and Twitter to disrupt the 2020 election. That admission ended up being in violation of Twitter’s terms of service, and he was permanently banned.

The main reason Wohl is receiving this much attention is because he continues his audacious schemes to manipulate the public with fake stories in an attempt to sow more discord and distrust in our institutions. It should give us pause and remind us to remain vigilant when we’re introduced with new information and taking things at face value.


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